Tis the season for spring cleaning, yet, if you’re like most people, you don’t even know where to begin. Busy work schedules coupled with an influx of extremely distracting warmer weather that’s begging you to forgo your to-do list often leads to putting off tidying up until the last minute — or never at all. While you can embrace the Wabi Sabi lifestyle, or imperfection, what you’re really doing by letting stuff pile up in your home is making your life more difficult, according to interior design experts. Here are the home organizing mistakes they most often see clients make and what you should do instead to avoid a cluttered home.
Mistake: You haven’t taken your daily routine into consideration
Your living space is there for the purpose of, well, living in it. That means it should be functional and make sense for the kind of lifestyle you lead. “Try paying attention to how you move around your space for a few days — where you drop things when you walk in the door, whether you put away toiletries after using them, etc.,” says Jennifer Wallenstein, Los Angeles-based interior designer with Homepolish. “Take the time to really think about what would make your life easier next time you are shopping instead of making a knee-jerk purchase that you think might help because it looks great in a store.”
Mistake: You’re afraid of letting things go
Whether it’s a stack of birthday cards from friends and family that you’ve been collecting for the last 20 years or a figurine of the Eiffel Tower your sister bought you while she was studying abroad, some things — even sentimental ones — have their time and place. Holding onto them way past their expiration date only leads to clutter as you collect more and more of these items (which you will). “There is a certain amount of freedom about not being a slave to your stuff,” says Jeanie Engelbach, a New York City-based professional organizer and interior stylist. If you’re feeling stuck and unable to make decisions, she suggests asking a friend, impartial family member or a professional organizer for help. “These people shouldn’t have the emotional attachment you do and will be able to objectively help you,” she explains.
Mistake: You fall for pretty much anything on sale
Unless you’ve been waiting to purchase something you need (not want) until it was discounted, Aileen Del Cid, Los Angeles-based interior designer and founder of FrillSpace, suggests steering clear of sales. “Do not fall victim to the shiny sales no matter how tempting they may be,” she says. “Buying items because they are discounted or because we ‘might’ use it in the future is not a wise choice and will only create clutter.” Instead, she recommends only shopping during a sale if it is an item you absolutely need at the present time.
Mistake: You overdo it on storage space
Sure, storage space can seriously come in handy, especially if you live in an apartment, and it is an important tool for organization. However, there is such a thing as too much storage space. “Having copious amounts of shelves, storage boxes, and overflowing cabinets can quickly cause a room to feel cluttered and claustrophobic,” explains Niki Cheng, owner of Calligaris NYC, Camerich NY and M Collection. To prevent over-storing, she recommends staying honest about what items you actually need and which can be trashed.